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National Gallery Hides Art: RTE Hides News: Artist Hits Nail On Head: Guards Involved

category dublin | arts and media | news report author Wednesday March 25, 2009 10:14author by Walter Goren Report this post to the editors

Last Saturday a man added his own original artwork to the walls of the National Gallery's portrait collection. He placed his 'Portait of Brian Cowen' on the wall next to a work depicting Maeve Binchy. It hung for forty minutes, before being removed.
Portrait of Biran Cowen, 2009, anonymours
Portrait of Biran Cowen, 2009, anonymours

The management proceeded to contact the Gardai. The officers photographed it, and it was subsequently consigned to temporary storage. The CCTV still frames of the man are currently displayed in both cloakrooms, as one would pin up images of dangerous criminals.

Accounts suggest that the wooden frame was expensive. The quality of the painting itself is high, and indicates that the painter is a full-time artist, and probably a trained one too.

Being a conservative institution, it is beyond the scope of this organisation to promote anti-establishment art. However this piece represents a step forward in the development of Irish art. By all rights, the work must be handed over to a commercial gallery, or to a private dealer before it is lost to history.

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 14:08author email libertypics at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don'tcha just love it....!!

This is a yfront to the toiletroll of the Taoiseach.......

It was hilarious on Pat Kenny this morning listening to the FF Michael Kennedy trying to lambaste RTE news.

Kenny was brilliant, took none of his guff.


author by Fat Cat.publication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 14:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'd say it's Kittensoft.

author by Jimpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was in stitches on the floor when I saw this on RTE news!
This artist should make a trailer load of money.
What a way to make a splash.

author by Albatrotpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 15:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

These paintings shouldn't be given to a commercial gallery or an art dealer, they should be put back up in the national gallery for all to see. They are a national treasure.

"When the National Assembly becomes a bourgeois theater,
all the bourgeois theaters should be turned into national assemblies."

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 15:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

...this belongs to the people, for the people and by the people.

The current and shitting Taoiseach must be very heavy arsed right now, I think I will send

him a postcard of a BIG fan, a photo of the bowel Bertie......ouch!

author by rose of mooncoinpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 16:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why can someone tell me did the newsreader on last nights rte 9pm news publicly apologise for airing the story- surely this was newswothy & gave us a laugh what we all need in these recessionary times? But to have to apologise to depts taoiseach etc it goes beyond belief and proves we are truly living in a dictatorship wherre the govt controls the media and what it should and shouldn't say -disgusting!!

author by Soft-n-Gentle 3-ply.publication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Politically correct people tend to very short on "Sense of Humour".

Witness the way they came down on Obama for his gaffe about the Special Olympics.

If FF objects to the painting they will only immortalise it.

author by TYSpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 16:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

... hide those obscene flapjacks, FFS !

"Brian Cowen is exposed to ridicule by art gallery guerrilla"

And massive congrats to all guerrilla who worked to spring this stinger ";0)

'Kak-Hand' by Anon
'Kak-Hand' by Anon

author by Tackpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 16:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

print, post and plaster the country with this brilliant iconclastic imagery

Freedom of speech, use it or lose it

author by Michelle Clarke - Social Justice and Ethicspublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What a relief that the National Gallery of Ireland has the common decency and respect to remove the potrait interpretation of Brian Cowen, Irish Taoiseach, a member of the legal profession, a father, a husband, a son, a friend, a cohort, part of the EU (the leading minister of this country in precarious times).

What an insult to the Irish people, to the Leader in Government of our country and the newly formed unity of the island of Ireland. Would anyone consider doing something likewise of say Gordon Browne in the Tate Gallery or Ian Paisley in a Northern Ireland Gallery?

No......I hope not. Where is the respect due to a Leader of a country in a very precarious economic and politically state, due global misfunction and corruption in the financial markets. Shame is all I will say.

I lived in Zimbabwe in the 1990#s in the reign of Mugabe. Respect was the min. expected. His cortege of cars and toyota jeeps (militarised) were said to have sanction to drive on through and......kill if necesary anybody in their way. Those on the motorbikes directing the cortege had the same fate meted on them.

What is happening in the Island of Ireland? Have we no shame?

It was the decision of Nell McCafferty to have a painting done in the nude. She made her own decision for her own reasons. She spoke on radio and TV.

What about an Taoiseach's wife, children, mother, father in heaven (He died as a party member). This is grotesque ignorant and the waste of the artists time and talent.

There must be some positive in this Bacon like copy. Mr. Cowens hair is less grey, the right hand is subject to interpretation.......the man who chose the breasts must have been studying a sow suckling her piglets......is there a reference to George Orwell and Animal Farm here.....!!! No they could not be that brilliant a mindset......

The expression of the lips.... has several interpretations......

The Clarity of the eyes is about the only saving grace that says Taoiseach Cowen maqy have vision (as Jonathan Swift said 'Give vision to the visionless'.

Ireland could be a sinking ship and it is time for all people to pull together to bring it back on track

Michelle Clarke

Quotation on Checks and Balances
'It's not people who aren't credit worthy,
IT'S NOT BANKS THAT ARE CREDIT WORTHY written by Muhammead Yunus contemporary Bangladeshi Economist and founder of Grameen Bank........................................Could not find a more apt quotation to an Ireland on its knees thanks to corruption of a few financiers and lawyers.

author by Albatrotpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 19:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Michelle, you've just proved Soft and Gentle's point. BTW what about all the people who are now up the creek because of this shyster's policies and his party's cowtowing to big business? Do they not matter? Reap what you sew Biffo!

author by shrekpublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 20:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This story complete with droopy man tits has gone through the languages of the EU and beyond into tonal syllable tongues with squiggly writing.

People who couldn't name the taoiseach, tell you what a taoiseach was or have reason to criticise Ireland until this week now know

a) the Irish prime minister has man boobs.
b) the Irish prime minister is very sensitive about his man boobs and RTE grovelled.

It's really time for all the good at art crew to hang their wares on Merrion Square Park's railings. Don't get generous - just photocopy your depiction of the man boobs.

Who knows an obese figure in graffiti stenciled silhouette might some day come to represent not only the Irish premier but other ministers too..,

author by noyourefuckingboring - Museum of Fraudulent Identitypublication date Wed Mar 25, 2009 20:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The producer of this work has been questioned at Pearse St. Garda station for committing an act of public art in a public art gallery. The video taped interviews are already hotly tipped for next years Turner Prize.

author by Art buffpublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 00:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ah well, anything is better than conceptualist art gimmicks like the recently publicised dogs-in-the-cage at an art gallery in Drogheda.

I would love to read a technical critique of the Biffo portraits by art critics/historians such as Aidan Dunne of the Irish Times or Bruce Arnold of the Irish Independent. How do the skills of the Biffo painter compare with the achievements of living portraitist Robert Ballagh or the late Harry Kernoff and Sean O'Sullivan?

author by The Manpublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 01:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Today FM has clearly come under pressure to hand over e-mails about this matter, while RTÉ News has obviously been browbeaten into a grovelling apology. The way this matter has been handled is more reminiscent of Russia in the 1930s than Ireland in 2009,” said Mr Flanagan.

Related Link: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0326/1224243451787.html
author by Jimpublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Gardai must have nothing to do if they haul in an artist for questioning over this hilarious prank.

Casby (I think that is his name) is now officially a legendary character and this prank will be sure to enter Irish folklore.

He is clearly a talented artist and witty satirist and I look forward to more crowd pleasing antics in the near future.

Goodness knows with the doom and gloom about we all need a giggle.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Police raid a radio station looking for names, then interview the artist under caution, and no discusson of this affair is permitted in the Dáil. How long before a poet is arrested for a satirical poem, or a theatre director for staging a satirical play? Cowen didn't set the police on Anglo-Irish half as quickly. RTE should never have apologised, of course. But there is a message in all of this: the powers of the State can and will be brought to bear upon artists and writers who rock the boat. We live in a deeply conservative country. The Western Writers' Centre in Galway lost its Arts Council Programme Funding because of letters I published in local newspapers criticising the Galway arts' scene - I am the Centre's director and clippings of these letters were sent quasi-anonymously to the Council. Incredibly, they acted upon them - we received their reasons for funding withdrawal in writing. Though the Council has tried to row back on ths, the message is clear; as with Cowen, no criticism of the prevailing consensus, political or cultural, will be permitted. We are in a dark place and it's getting darker - but our artists and writers don't seem to understand this.Why aren't they protesting about the treatment of Cowen's portraitist?

author by southern comfort - Macra na Feirme Dance Committeepublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 17:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Go easy lads, you know he'll never be made Taoiseach again. How would it look in the history books that he was made a show of and laughed at in an RTE news item?

Only RTE would apologise for its news item, and then take it off its website.

But here it is on youtube....

Related Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQsR09ER4Yk
author by Muir Linnpublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 18:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In 1985, an Art Institute student in Chi-town painted then Mayor Harold Washington wearing lingerie and entitled it 'Mirth and Girth'. It caused a huge stir and uproar and the cops took it down. Artists started passing out buttons that said, 'Fear No Art!'. Then there was lots of debate on what constituted art. Four years later a judge ruled there had been an infringement on the artists first amendment rights and awarded him $ millions.

Here's a link to the story

Related Link: http://www.cd.sc.ehu.es/FileRoom/documents/Cases/330nelson.html
author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 18:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On behalf of six photographers last year , I applied for funding for the anti war exhibition, 'Images of Resistance -inside and outside of Iraq'. We were 'politely' refused with a two sentence token rejection. (surprise surprise)

A week after that, I was in my local bookies trying to get some of his money, I noticed a flyer on the counter advertising an 'artistic' circus, yes you guessed it - the circus was sponsored by the Irish Arts Council.
This same circus is banned by some local councils in Ireland for it's record of ill-treating animals.

I am having problems getting the above exhibition into one of Dublin's libraries, and it doesn't take a genius to work out why they won't even answer my emails.

These hidden government lackeys are an infection in this political system we are subjected to.

I will keep you posted on the exhibition.



Meanwhile....I encourage all who can paint, draw, use photoshop etc or even who want to attempt....have a go yourselves....pick your politician and make them witty and pointed, be as creative as possible.

Send scans of them to libertypics@hotmail.com for posting on www.myspace.com/Yfrontary

Best one gets a six pack -of toilet rolls!!

author by Dave Lordan - Poets who think cowen is vilepublication date Thu Mar 26, 2009 19:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nothing in Ireland could be viler than Cowen, and this artist has depicted the foul halfwit at the head of the fianna fail robber baron clique with great insight and accuracy. In my opinion, the best irish painter to emerge since Robert Ballagh. Someone should offer this artist an exhibition space immediately and defy the state's attempt to silence artists, though most are comfortable enough being silent as long as they get a pat on the head for being good boys and girls from the shits that run this country. This artist has dignity as well as talent. A rare thing in Ireland. I hope he or she is the first of many.

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Fri Mar 27, 2009 13:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Play the ball, not the woman" is one of Indymedia's most respected and admired rules.

I leave aside the fact that someone has over-reacted, that Gardaí were called in, that RTE apologised, that Brian Cowen is a Taoiseach who is not admired by me for his political legacy (Iraq, Lisbon, RTE debate, overseeing the oncoming recession as Minister for Finance, present performance in Dáil).

However, these pictures were not playing the ball but the man.

Satire can be a useful and necessary instrument for the artist, the journalist, the pundit. But, if one has an interest in fair play and human rights, he or she will realise that satire must be handled carefully. Satire should not descend to abuse.

Having worked with a system that tried to eradicate bullying in schools, I often had to make the best judgement I could, on where the line between "slagging" and "bullying" was being blurred and the "slagging" had become "bullying".

If pictures similar to these had, without permission of the subject, been circulated in a classroom, or distributed by e-mail, I would have adjudged that they were a form of bullying because they were holding a pupil up to derision and ridicule among peers. If the pictures were posted on the Internet, the good name of the victim would have been more seriously impaired. A lot of modern bullying is done in this way. The victims are usually devastated, feeling themselves to be subjects of derision, vilification or hate. Parents and siblings are also affected. Some victims have committed suicide.

I know that the political arena in which our political masters hold sway is not the same as a school but there are similarities between the posting of derisory pictures of a student on the Internet and the posting of abusive pictures of a politician in a public gallery from where they make their way inevitably to cyberspace.

As Michelle has pointed out, there is a wife and family who are hurt and who could be seriously damaged by the opprobrium caused as a result of these abusive pictures.

It's very easy for others to say that they would have reacted differently and what great sports they are as a result. Pat Kenny said that if it had been himself who had been portrayed in this way, he would have bought the pictures and hung them at home. And he would have done this because "I have a sense of humour".

Maybe with hindsight he would, but when he was taken by surprise, his sense of humour didn't pass muster. When Eamon Dunphy called him "Plank Kenny" and said he was surprised that his wife had married him, Pat took grave offence and Eamon Dunphy was summoned to the courts.

A picture can be much more hurtful than an opinion expressed in words. In my opinion, these pictures are over the top, unfair, cruel, unjust, extremely hurtful not just to the subject, Brian Cowen (who probably has shoulders broad enough to shrug off the insult personally) but more importantly to his beloved wife and children. Pat should have remembered his own sense of hurt on behalf of his own beloved wife and family when he joined the gallery of clappers and cheerleaders of these pictures of snide intent.

My sense of outrage here is because of the unjust hurt and humiliation to a politician's family, not because an apology was offered for it by RTE 1 News.

author by Michael Gallagher - Photographerpublication date Fri Mar 27, 2009 14:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Justin Morahan, I think you are overreacting. The ball is in his (Brian Cowan's) court, he is the manager of the team.
He is not some sensitive teenager or a repressed individual.

While I accept that his family may be 'upset' by these, their 'upset' is a dot compared to the upset, devastation and grief, this man and his gangster parties policies are still wreaking on many sections of this Irish society, to say the least.

I don't find Brian Cowan funny, but I don't think the artist intended this to upset Brian Cowan's family, he is a legitimate target. I find the message in the paintings funny, (as it seems the vast majority of opinion out there does) a bit juvenile....but funny nonetheless and he makes a valid point, The Emporer Has No Clothes? (See Hans Christian Anderson).
I do hope Brian Cowan is shitting himself and he and his cronies certainly should be, they are in for a hiding at the polls. And about time too. I'm so looking forward to the final failing and nailing of the Finally Fáiled party.

I hope when all this blows over and we get back to the serious side of life, that these paintings will find their true place in a public gallery for all to see, but I doubt if it will be an Irish state owned gallery. (The paintings are all over the world as we read anyway).

Art is expression, free speech is a right. Take away those and you take away two fundamentals of democracy.

The king is dead.

author by Michael Gallagherpublication date Fri Mar 27, 2009 15:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I will take two dozen, proceeds to go to the artist and his court expenses, if any.

Anyone buying or selling a teashock...sorry, t-shirt!!

Toilet roll up roll up......get to the yfront of the queue.....roll up roll up....

author by Taggerpublication date Sat Mar 28, 2009 00:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Biffo opted to go into politics, when you are in the public eye you have to take the medicine,otherwise if you cant take the heat get out of the kitchen. And fair play to the Artist we need more of this and lots more of it, but this old, stale, clapped out right winger of a government just cant take a joke. Pity they dident the bankers, and the bubble economy as seriously as they have this, if they did now we would all be on the pigs back.

Dont worry be Happy.

author by Jessiepublication date Sat Mar 28, 2009 00:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unhappy with RTE grovelling over Biffo painting then email


I did

RTE should be apologising to license payers for encouraging tax evaders - Peter Kelly of Brides of Franc (third series started last Sunday) and economist Prof Brendan Walsh (in new George Lee How we spent the boom series) were both named in the last revenue list of tax evaders published c.2 weeks ago

But taxes are for the 'little people'.....?

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Sat Mar 28, 2009 03:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To Michael Gallagher

Play the ball and not the woman. If, as you say, "the ball is in his court", then play the ball.

Bullying doesn't happen only to "sensitive teenagers" or "repressed individuals". There is massive, unresolved bullying going on all over Ireland both in schools and in the workplace. It appears to be an accepted culture as the bullies get away with it and there is no anti-bullying legislation in place or contemplated. These pictures will give a cruel freedom to young people in schools and their grown-up counterparts in the workplace to continue unabated in the crucifixion of fellow students or co-workers. They will not help turn back the tide of bullying that has crippled so many lives, but they will encourage and push that cruel tide forever forward.

Art is indeed expression and free speech is indeed a right . Both have boundaries with respect to decency and fair play. These boundaries protect both art and free speech. Abuse of art or free speech is not a "fundamental of democracy". The images on the tee-shirts that you are purchasing (no matter what good cause benefits) don't respect those boundaries and will strengthen the hands of bullies everywhere. I haven't questioned the intent of the artist but I do now question the further promulgation of these abusive pictures though tee shirt sales.
Just think of the provocation those who wear them will cause to Brian Cowen's wife, children and many friends.

No-one, but no-one, is a "legitimate target" of bullying. Brian Cowen is neither Emperor nor King but was elected to the Dáil by many thousands of voters. Criticism and satire may be expected by politicians but not abuse. Forget about the Gardaí and the courts and think of the human side of what you are doing if you intend to sell or wear these abusive tee shirts.

You might think they're funny but you might for a minute consider the victims via this Aesop fable:

"Some boys, playing near a pond, saw a number of Frogs in the water and began to pelt them with stones. They killed several of them, when one of the Frogs, lifting his head out of the water, cried out: 'Pray stop, my boys: what is fun to you, is death to us' ".

author by Michael Gallagher - Photographerpublication date Sat Mar 28, 2009 15:00author email libertypics at yahoo dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

First of all, I abhor bullying of any sort, having gone through the experience when I was younger more than once

Second: these art pictures are not a form of bullying. That answers some of your points ie "legitimate target."

Third: The creation of a bullying nature in human behaviour partly stems from home life....how much I don't know, I am not an expert on anything. These very funny carricatures will not add to the statistics, they are not bullying. Of all the points I have heard this week here, on radio and tv, your's is the first that has mentioned the word "bullying" and tried to establish a link. Their isn't one.

Fourth: I didnt produce any t-shirts, I was replying to a post above me that had a t-shirt with one of the art works, the post has been removed, and I was joking.
Difficult to spot a joke sometimes it seems Jutsin.

I may not have replied to some of your 'points' for the simple reason, that you are wasting my time, I am very busy at the moment. But I would love to stay and debate this sillyness with you, because I find you quite amusing.

Before you scour the internet for any more fables and gems from yonder years, don't get to upset.

Maybe you will call me a bully, but frankly by your inaccuracies and accusations, isn't that a form of bullying? How ironic.

Anyway, I have my art to get back to, in anticipation, thanks for looking.

Links to my art: www.myspace.com/libertypix


Signing off on this one.


author by Arm-a-Gedden.publication date Sat Mar 28, 2009 17:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As far as I'am aware these paintings were displayed some weeks ago but the issue only made the media this week.It is obvious that F/Fail were aware of their existance but kept the story under wraps.This is not an act of Bullying but another act by F/Fail, they have partaken in another grand con job,they have played the poor me card, the sympathy card, upon an unsuspecting Irish public, they are at the very bottom of the pit, it is their hope that they will win back support by playing the poor me card, which this of course is very creditable of F/Fail. They gave themselves, their spin doctors and their cohorts time to think what way they would best use this (spin) to their advantage and the plan of deceit was hatched, and then to drag his family into the fray,this is a disgraceful and a despicable act but F/Fail's few morals departed a very long time ago, any crowd that mislead a nation and continues to do so, are capable of just about anything as we can clearly see.

Brian Cowan was elected to the Dáil by many thousands of voters,
He was not elected to Taoiseach the same way, he is a selected Taoiseach selected by his cronies in the F/Fail Party, the Yellows, and one PD? that is how he got the job and he does not have a mandate from the people.

Bullying by any body is a sickening act and is only carried out by cowards, however F/Fail are masters at it, remember Shell to Sea, Tara, Shannon and the rendition flights and I could go on, I suppose by your standards they were just joking, get off the soap box and come live in the real World.

Whats sauce for the Goose, is sauce for the Gander.

Free Maura Harrington now.

author by Not important - Nonepublication date Sun Mar 29, 2009 14:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

May I suggest that everyone in support of this artist try and print out as many copies of the "offending" paintings as they can get their hands on and plaster the entire country in them.

author by iosafpublication date Sun Mar 29, 2009 21:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I really have to voice my rejection of any argument defending Cowen's office's handling of this artwork as having anything to do with "bullying". I'd just like to remind readers that one of the publishing companies owned by Berlusconi's finance holding group issued a book titled "Berlusconi ti odio" which compiled his favourite examples of insults which had been aimed at him over the years.
c/f http://www.indymedia.ie/article/71091

Equally the BBC magazine in January 2009 in a feature article on the increase of men's corrective breast surgery, the third time the BBC had broached that subject, referred to the moobs or man boobs of both Tony Blair and David Cameron when photographed on holiday during the summer of 2008. c/f http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7855763.stm They had previously joined with broadsheets in comparing the retouched photos of Sarokzy (which edited out his pauch rolls of fat) with the ample evidence of Putin's honed and toned pectoral muscles. If we apply the taoiseach's office's yardstick of news worthiness befitting RTE to the BBC then Terry Wogan really did go to the gutter..,

Cowen's office attacked the lascitude which since the 18th century has been one of the benchmark's of freedom of opinion; that of freedom of artistic caricature, that of representative lampoonery. A freedom which has meant that societies which take rights of expression seriously allow for satire, cartoon depiction, less than flattering artistic portraits & even the burning of effigies.

It was not Cowen & his family who were bullied - it was the artist, the Irish state media and by due effect the Irish public.

author by 'portantfella - Gentlemens Club of St Stephens Green publication date Sun Mar 29, 2009 21:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Given the up and coming events ,such as the budget and the june elections , the loo loo might be Cowens final retreat of peace after all .

Congrats to the Artist ,put the person in the same league as The Late Great Andy Warhol .......Well DONE , WHOEVER YOU ARE ...........???

author by ArtEnthusiastpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 00:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

this artist "bullied" Cowen by painting a picture of him.
Cowen replied by turning the full might of the state on him. and pressuring the national broadcaster into apologising No contest who is more powerful and intimidating in my book!!
which would you prefer to have happen to you. Have a portrait painted or have a visit from the boys in blue?

You choose a life in the public eye, you expect to be made fun of. It's part of the job. Thats why he gets paid more money than US president barrack obama after all. Well It's certainly not for his higher degree in economics and urban planning, and his unshakeable scruples and desire to do what is best for the people of Ireland.

If this IS a real incident and not a ruse to divert the ADD public from our impending economic collapse and all the rampant corruption its retreating waters are uncovering, then 5 minutes of thought would lead him to the obvious conclusion that he should purchase the two paintings for a reasonable fee, sign them in good humour, then auction them off very publicly and donate the money towards HPV vaccines for 12 year old girls.

That would win him lots of support over night. Those spin doctors he pays so much of our money for are a complete waste. Please fire them brian, before you fire another special needs teacher or nurse who provides a real and worthwhile service to the people of this country.

My Thanks to the artist.
I hope he continues the series with a REALLY deserving portrait of bertie ahearn who is in my book far more responsible than anyone else for the awful mess we are in. I think he just left cowen to deal with the mess as a bit of a cynical joke on cowen and on the Irish people. In a way I feel a tiny bit sorry for cowen. However I didn't hear a peep out of him when bertie was busy fucking us all over so perhaps he deserves to pay for his behaviour. Then I think of his huge undeserved salary and my pity evaporates.

If he has a problem with being in the public eye and all it entails then perhaps he should get another job other than "running" a country (into the ground). Perhaps something he can handle and do well. Singing publican maybe?

author by artloverpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 09:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bertie t shirts! Bertie paintings- my thoughts exactly! When when when :) ?

author by P-Artist.publication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Thats why he gets paid more money than US president barrack obama after all."

Not so.

Cowen is the world's highest paid Prime Minister because he,and the entire overpaid Irish Public Sector, fleeces muggins the private -sector taxpayer.

As do the non tax paying "arts" sector also.

author by Depressedpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"May I suggest that everyone in support of this artist try and print out as many copies of the "offending" paintings as they can get their hands on and plaster the entire country in them."


Give us a break.

We are all depressed enough without Cowen and his bog roll staring at us from every lamp post.

author by Art buffpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 11:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It depresseth me much that there has been no attempt on this thread to evaluate the two interloper paintings from an artistic, aesthetic point of view. How good are they? How skillful was the artist's brushwork, composition, depiction of anatomy and blending of colour nuances? Nobody has tried to compare/contrast the artist's insights into anatomy with the famed drawings of Leonardo or Rembrandt's awesome study of the corpse of an executed murderer in The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Kulp. Really this discussion is going off loudly on tangents about party politics, concepts of public decorum, the dignity of public office and the state of the public finances. Art per se and its current status among the general public has been relegated to the background. This does not contribute towards a growth in public esteem for art. It depresseth me an hundredfold. I get an impression that the artwork in children's comics like The Beano and The Dandy is a benchmark for many political debaters.

author by Philistinepublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I get an impression that the artwork in children's comics like The Beano and The Dandy is a benchmark for many political debaters."

I'd read the Beano or the Dandy any day in preference to looking at the "art" in those two ugly cartoons of Cowen.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 13:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There's no need to get worked up concerning whether the Casby paintings are art; they are, and have been considered to be not at all bad, by some art experts quoted in the media, though it hasn't been easy to find these comments in the soup of the rest of the affair. One need hardly add that there is a strong tradition of art-as-satirical comment going back to Hogarth and others. However, the real problem with the reaction of this beseiged government to Casby's work is that they might as easily turn their attentions now to a poet, a novelist or a playwright; I would remind readers here that it has been my unfortunate experience to learn that The Arts Council, for instance, are capable of making funding decisions based upon the critical content of letters to newspapers which are forwarded to them anonymously. Oddly, to judge by the absence of letters to the press, these issues don't seem to bother our artists individually, or those in Aosdána, or the writers of the SIPTU affiliate, the Irish Writers' Union. The question that we should be asking is: Do we live in a society where a covering of liberalism in fact masks a deeply conservative and controlling political and cultural consensus which will brook no criticism? Self-interest, of course, is the most efficient censor. There are many ways - besides a visit from the police - through which artists can be controlled and censored. Fear of upsetting The Arts Council (which is a fear of not being favourably looked upon when one applies for a grant) is a commonplace. The Casby Pictures incident showed us a glimpse of what lies beneath - in more ways than one. And it is altogether likely, going on past experience that some citizen will copy this comment and send it - anonymously or under an assumed name - directly to The Arts Council.

author by Art buffpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 13:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Could you name "some art experts quoted in the media" who have attested, in their professional capacities, that the two interloping paintings weren't bad at all?

author by Philistinepublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 13:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Through which artists can be controlled and censored."

Who wants to "control and censor" mere artists????

The puffed up self importance of the "arts world" never ceases to amaze me.

The two images are just a couple of rather badly done cartoons guys.
Forgotten already.

(I've seen better in the Dandy.)

author by McGahernpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 14:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Who wants to "control and censor" mere artists????"

Fianna Fáil. And the Gardaí. And RTÉ Television.

author by Philistinepublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 20:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Who wants to "control and censor" mere artists????"
Fianna Fáil. And the Gardaí. And RTÉ Television"

Dont flatter yourself McGahern.

If RTE had not made their stupid apology those two cartoons would be in the bin now.

author by Big Fat BIFFOpublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 21:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While most of the BIFFO RTE sorry vids have been pulled from YOUTUBE, this nice short vid summary of the story is still out there.... Enjoy

Brian Cowen's hissy fit.

and from the "national" media:

RTE: Guerrilla artist hangs nude Cowen paintings
watch Monday, 23 March 2009

Editor's Note: On the 23 March 2009 Nine News, we carried a report on the illicit hanging of caricatures of the Taoiseach in two Dublin galleries. RTE news would like to apologise for any personal offence caused to Mr Cowen or his family or for any disrespect shown to the office of Taoiseach by our broadcast.

IRISH TIMES: Portrait of Ireland as a laughing stock (Monday, March 30, 2009)

Amid the dark farce of our society, the Cowen caricatures packed far more than one punch line – with RTÉ’s apology, writes ANN MARIE HOURIHANE

SURELY THE point is not that RTÉ news should not have apologised for making us laugh, but that it doesn’t apologise enough. As the nation hangs on that well-worn cusp between tears and laughter, RTÉ news is pretty well guaranteed to render the licence-payer helpless with mirth – and not just when it is performing its devastatingly accurate impersonation of Soviet state television.

Im a big fat BIFFO get me out of here
Im a big fat BIFFO get me out of here

Caption: Video Id: zQ3OHbZ_4cg Type: Youtube Video
Embedded video Youtube Video

author by Mindless Philistinepublication date Mon Mar 30, 2009 22:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

RTE radoio are obsessed with the arts.

I switched to BBC Radio 4 after I had heard the mindless mantra "RTE supporting the Arts" just once too often.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Tue Mar 31, 2009 17:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In reply to one contributor above who wants to know who thought what about the paintings critically: "It's reasonably well painted. It's not the worst thing I've ever seen," said James O'Halloran, of Adam's Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers in Dublin. This was quoted in The Guardian newspaper, of March 24th. ". . .“hundreds of patrons of the gallery passed it believing it to be a genuine part of the collection” (quoted by Fintan O'Toole in The Irish Times). That answer the question?

author by Michelangelopublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 09:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

“Hundreds of patrons of the gallery passed it believing it to be a genuine part of the collection”.

THAT says more about the standards of modern (or post-modern, or post-post modern, or post-post-post modern.) art than a million lines of "art appreciation."

Not quite up to my own efforts:


author by Art buffpublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well, that's one art expert, who limply declared it was "not really bad". I expect because of the notoriety rather than the artistic skills involved the said paintings could fetch a high price at an art auction. I gather the gardai have the paintings, handed to them by the gallery staff after the security breaches were reported, so while kept by the sleuths there won't be an auction.
Perhaps a few hundred visitors went to the official exhibitions and didn't notice anything odd before staff noticed and removed the items. A lot of visitors flick their eyes over some paintings if there are many of them hung on the walls of several rooms; so it doesn't mean that hundreds of discerning art lovers stopped to peruse and admire the 'cuckoo' caricatures. I don't think it has yet been asserted by a reasonable representation of art experts that the caricatures have artistic merit.

author by Rembrandtpublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 12:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"Notoriety rather than the artistic skills".

Thats for sure.
The images were seen all over the world.

The cartoonist must be rubbing his hands with glee...and must be thanking RTE etc. etc.. for making his work (and therefore himself ) world famous.

For fifteen minutes at least.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 14:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Andy Warhol knew that most 'modern art' was nonsense, as did Duchamps before him. Warhol made a fortune painting soup tins; when he died, it was discovered that his home contained nothing but Old Masters. But the cartoon-as-satire has a lineage going back before Hogarth and is quite legitimate whatever the quality of the art. In the age of Tracey Emin, the Casby works are certainly art.

author by Art buffpublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I read many years ago that Warhol's home was chocabloc with collections of kitsch objects he had collected during his sorties into seaside souvenir shops, pawnshops, secondhand furniture stores and the like. Great interest was shown in the auctioning off of his household effects, many items having a celebrity value similar to the mementoes of James Dean and Elvis Presley. He had collected art works by well-known contemporary artists too and the proceeds from the auction of everything exceeded $20 million.Yes, if one accepts Tracy Emin's dishevilled bed and other masterpieces of Britart it follows that Biffo's caricature's are following in a great line. In Aristotelian logic the acceptance of a major premise and the minor premise that follows entails a built-in verification of the conclusion. The jury of public opinion, and the undeclared opinions of mainstream art critics and historians, is still out regarding the acceptance of the major premise that Britart stands on the same level of achievement as the satirical prints of Hogarth and the pre-impressionist flaming seascapes of Turner.

author by Tracypublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 16:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"If one accepts Tracy Emin's dishevilled bed"
Charles Saatchi accepted it.
He paid £150,000 for it

Wouldn't you?

Masterpiece here:

(Bet smug Michelangelo never got that much for one of HIS masterpieces.)

author by ArtEnthusiastpublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 18:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

mentioned in the paper today, It seems Bertie ahearn bought his painting from casby for a 3 figure sum, apparently to avoid embarrassment. I hope he paints more. Bertie's digouts can't last forever!!

author by Leonardo da Vincipublication date Wed Apr 01, 2009 20:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A 3 figure sum sounds fair enough for bog paper .

As it involves bog paper............... Cowen will probably use it as such.

Expensive bog paper.

Irish Public Sector Bog Paper.

Cowen's money comes ENTIRELY from the taxpayer.

The taxpater pays for this.

author by Prematurely Old Master.publication date Thu Apr 02, 2009 08:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A new masterpiece unveiled.

By the Old Master ...........Gerry Ryan.


Not taxed of course....Gerry is an Artist now (Pee Artist.)

Gerry needs the money too.

author by Fred Johnstonpublication date Thu Apr 02, 2009 14:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The item about Bertie Ahern buying a painting of himself from Mr Casby appeared in The Daily Mail and is an April Fool's joke; this can easily be deduced from the name given as his spokesman, 'Avril Canard' - 'avril' is April in French, and 'canard' is a duck, but also a bit of satire and has come in to English as 'joke'. The French for April Fool's Day is 'poisson d'avril.' It has been confirmed to me by the newspaper that it is in fact a joke. Damned good one, actually.

author by Teeshock - CannabisIreland.netpublication date Fri Apr 03, 2009 03:53author email Info at cannabisireland dot netauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Once upon a time there lived a vain Emperor whose only worry in life was to dress in elegant clothes. He changed clothes almost every hour and loved to show them off to his people.

Word of the Emperor's refined habits spread over his kingdom and beyond. Two scoundrels who had heard of the Emperor's vanity decided to take advantage of it. They introduced themselves at the gates of the palace with a scheme in mind.
"We are two very good tailors and after many years of research we have invented an extraordinary method to weave a cloth so light and fine that it looks invisible. As a matter of fact it is invisible to anyone who is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality."

The chief of the guards heard the scoundrel's strange story and sent for the court chamberlain. The chamberlain notified the prime minister, who ran to the Emperor and disclosed the incredible news. The Emperor's curiosity got the better of him and he decided to see the two scoundrels.

"Besides being invisible, your Highness, this cloth will be woven in colors and patterns created especially for you." The emperor gave the two men a bag of gold coins in exchange for their promise to begin working on the fabric immediately.

"Just tell us what you need to get started and we'll give it to you." The two scoundrels asked for a loom, silk, gold thread and then pretended to begin working. The Emperor thought he had spent his money quite well: in addition to getting a new extraordinary suit, he would discover which of his subjects were ignorant and incompetent. A few days later, he called the old and wise prime minister, who was considered by everyone as a man with common sense.

"Go and see how the work is proceeding," the Emperor told him, "and come back to let me know."

The prime minister was welcomed by the two scoundrels.

"We're almost finished, but we need a lot more gold thread. Here, Excellency! Admire the colors, feel the softness!" The old man bent over the loom and tried to see the fabric that was not there. He felt cold sweat on his forehead.

"I can't see anything," he thought. "If I see nothing, that means I'm stupid! Or, worse, incompetent!" If the prime minister admitted that he didn't see anything, he would be discharged from his office.

"What a marvelous fabric, he said then. "I'll certainly tell the Emperor." The two scoundrels rubbed their hands gleefully. They had almost made it. More thread was requested to finish the work.

Finally, the Emperor received the announcement that the two tailors had come to take all the measurements needed to sew his new suit.

"Come in," the Emperor ordered. Even as they bowed, the two scoundrels pretended to be holding large roll of fabric.

"Here it is your Highness, the result of our labour," the scoundrels said. "We have worked night and day but, at last, the most beautiful fabric in the world is ready for you. Look at the colors and feel how fine it is." Of course the Emperor did not see any colors and could not feel any cloth between his fingers. He panicked and felt like fainting. But luckily the throne was right behind him and he sat down. But when he realized that no one could know that he did not see the fabric, he felt better. Nobody could find out he was stupid and incompetent. And the Emperor didn't know that everybody else around him thought and did the very same thing.

The farce continued as the two scoundrels had foreseen it. Once they had taken the measurements, the two began cutting the air with scissors while sewing with their needles an invisible cloth.

"Your Highness, you'll have to take off your clothes to try on your new ones." The two scoundrels draped the new clothes on him and then held up a mirror. The Emperor was embarrassed but since none of his bystanders were, he felt relieved.

"Yes, this is a beautiful suit and it looks very good on me," the Emperor said trying to look comfortable. "You've done a fine job."

"Your Majesty," the prime minister said, "we have a request for you. The people have found out about this extraordinary fabric and they are anxious to see you in your new suit." The Emperor was doubtful showing himself naked to the people, but then he abandoned his fears. After all, no one would know about it except the ignorant and the incompetent.

"All right," he said. "I will grant the people this privilege." He summoned his carriage and the ceremonial parade was formed. A group of dignitaries walked at the very front of the procession and anxiously scrutinized the faces of the people in the street. All the people had gathered in the main square, pushing and shoving to get a better look. An applause welcomed the regal procession. Everyone wanted to know how stupid or incompetent his or her neighbor was but, as the Emperor passed, a strange murmur rose from the crowd.

Everyone said, loud enough for the others to hear: "Look at the Emperor's new clothes. They're beautiful!"

"What a marvellous train!"

"And the colors! The colors of that beautiful fabric! I have never seen anything like it in my life!" They all tried to conceal their disappointment at not being able to see the clothes, and since nobody was willing to admit his own stupidity and incompetence, they all behaved as the two scoundrels had predicted.

A child, however, who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes showed them to him, went up to the carriage.

"The Emperor is naked," he said.

"Fool!" his father reprimanded, running after him. "Don't talk nonsense!" He grabbed his child and took him away. But the boy's remark, which had been heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until everyone cried:

"The boy is right! The Emperor is naked! It's true!"

The Emperor realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He though it better to continue the procession under the illusion that anyone who couldn't see his clothes was either stupid or incompetent. And he stood stiffly on his carriage, while behind him a page held his imaginary mantle.

TeeShock - Freedom of Expression - Support freedom of expression!


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